The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) recently selected 13 projects for funding through the Dairy Innovation Hub initiative. These one or two-year grants fund promising work in the Hub’s four priority areas: stewarding land and water resources, enriching human health and nutrition, ensuring animal health and welfare, and growing farm business and communities.
Short-term, high-impact research and outreach projects are intended to leverage existing UW-Madison expertise to provide timely results supporting the goals of the Dairy Innovation Hub, with an emphasis on addressing recommendations generated by the state’s Dairy Task Force 2.0, which completed its work in 2019.
Funded through a $7.8 million per year investment by the state of Wisconsin, the Hub positions Wisconsin’s dairy community for economic, environmental and social success by advancing science, developing talent and leveraging collaboration at UW–Madison, UW–Platteville and UW–River Falls. Since its launch in 2019, more than 100 projects have been funded across the three campuses.
With additional Hub support, CALS recently hired five faculty in the areas of dairy economics, human nutrition, rumen microbial physiology, and land and water stewardship. More information is at dairyinnovationhub.wisc.edu.
The following UW–Madison projects were selected for short-term, high-impact grants:
“DairyTrader®: A cull dairy cow price estimation app to help farmer decision-making”
Guilherme Rosa, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences
Rosa is a professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. He teaches courses and develops research on statistical and computational tools to analyze livestock data including beef and dairy cattle, swine, poultry among others. Joao Dorea and Ligia Moreira are collaborating on this research.
Project summary: Culling decisions, a key component of successful dairy farm, are a frequently faced challenge for many dairy farmers. In addition to involuntary culling of cows due to illness, injury, or infertility, farmers need to decide when and which cows should be removed from their herd and replaced by heifers of superior genetic merit. Approximately two-thirds of cull dairy cows are sold through live auctions and many farmers only learn about the price of their cow after it has been marketed. As an additional tool to help farmers with their decision making, this project is developing an app (called Dairy Trader®). Dairy Trader® will provide the prices a farmer should expect to be paid for their cull cows in real-time. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendation #34 and #37 (‘Create an app for dairy producers and associates on major topics’ and ‘Understanding marketing tools available’).
“Strategies to inhibit development of biogenic amine associated defects in ripened cheeses”
Mark Johnson, Center for Dairy Research
Johnson is the assistant director for the Center for Dairy Research. His research interests include developing manufacturing and ripening protocols for unique cheeses, the study of cheese characteristics and cheese defects. Rodrigo Alfaro Ibanez is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: Biogenic amines (BA) are small compounds that can accumulate in cheese and have toxicological affects, off-flavors, and undesirable gas formation. Currently there are no federally established toxicological limits for BA in dairy products. The Wisconsin dairy industry needs to be prepared to reduce levels of BA in their products due to potential changes in FDA guidelines. This study will propose new strategies during manufacturing to reduce incidence of BA in cheese. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 Recommendation #27 (‘Regulatory changes needed to FDA product standards of identity’).
“Determining consumer preferences of dairy milk”
Beth Olson, Department of Nutritional Sciences
Olson is an associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Her research interests include improving infant feeding practices in low-income households and breastfeeding support for low-income and working women. Bret Shaw, Todd Newman, and Barry Arnold are collaborating on this research.
Project summary: Fluid milk consumption has been declining in recent years as alternative plant beverages grow in popularity. Plant-based beverages, however, lack the nutrients of dairy milk which is recommended by U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Promoting milk with a generalized message can be insensitive to some populations such as those with higher prevalence of lactose intolerance or specific lifestyles like veganism. By focusing on which aspects of milk appeal to each kind of consumer this project will improve nutritional education in the state of Wisconsin and help boost milk sales. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 Recommendation #4 (‘Need for a consistent industry message’).
“Discovering a new dairy-based ingredient to replace fat in whipped cream”
Audrey Girard, Department of Food Science
Girard joined the UW–Madison faculty in May 2021 as an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science specializing in food chemistry. Her overarching goal is to use protein chemistry to improve food quality and sustainability, as well as to promote human health. Girard grew up on a farm in northwest Kansas where she developed an innate connection to agriculture and food production. Rich Hartel is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: A major issue in the dairy cream industry are rising health concerns of consumers looking for low-fat alternatives. Many low-fat options are stabilized by ingredients that are unfamiliar to consumers. Consumers worldwide are also gravitating towards shorter, simpler ingredient lists. These evolving obstacles cannot go unaddressed. This project hypothesizes that whey protein-derived ingredients could replace the fat in cream while maintaining cream properties. This would be especially useful for production of whipped cream. This study will help dairy processors to develop low fat, reduced calorie, high protein cream-based products that enrich nutrition and enhance marketability of premium Wisconsin dairy products. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 Recommendation #26 (‘Increased collaboration in the UW System and with private industry’).
“A new approach to nutrient management planning on Wisconsin dairy farms”
Scott Sturgul, Nutrient and Pest Management program
Sturgul is the outreach program manager for the Nutrient and Pest Management program (NPM), working to bring research-based information regarding farm profits, water quality, pest management, pesticide use practices, and nutrient management planning to Wisconsin farmers and landowners. Damon Smith is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: Improving nutrient management practices on Wisconsin dairy farms has significant potential for improving farm profitability and protecting water quality. This project seeks to create a digital and interactive nutrient management planning workbook that trains dairy farmers to develop functional nutrient management plans. In 2020, a combination of challenges including COVID-19 restrictions, reduced staff, and budget reductions created an incentive to investigate other, less personnel-dependent, mechanisms for delivering the Wisconsin Nutrient Management Farmer Education curriculum. This project will expedite the development and release of this new approach to nutrient management planning. The remote method will eliminate or greatly reduce the need for physically close instructor-student contact, allow for self-pace and self-instruction, and hopefully increase the number of Wisconsin farmers implementing nutrient management. This project aligns with Dairy Task Force 2.0 Recommendation #47 (‘Need for regulatory certainty and consistency’).
“Innovative solutions for sustainable improvement of dairy cow fertility”
Francisco Peñagaricano, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences
Peñagaricano’s research focuses on genetic architecture of economically relevant traits in livestock. He specifically focuses on the development and application of methods to dissect the genetic architecture of livestock. Kent Weigel is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: Intense selection for productive traits has negatively affected dairy cow fertility in the last half century. Poor fertility is leading to significant economic losses. Dairy farmers in Wisconsin have been heavily relying on the use of hormonal treatments such as ovulation synchronization protocols as a management strategy to mitigate poor reproductive performance. However, the need to reduce pharmacological interventions is a reality for the future of Wisconsin’s dairy community. There is a critical need to improve dairy cow fertility in an environmentally sustainable manner. One approach is focusing on estrous (or reproductive) behavior. This project will conduct extensive research into the estrous cycle with the end goal of delivering a novel genomic prediction tool. This tool can be used to identify, rank, and select cows with improved estrous expression. Selecting cows with increased estrous expression will help increase pregnancy rates without relying on hormonal interventions.
“Dairy and environment online course development”
Rebecca Larson, Department of Biological Systems Engineering
Larson is an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. Her research and extension interests include all areas of biological waste including manure management, handling and treatment of agricultural waste, diffuse source pollution, agricultural sustainability, and waste-to-energy technologies including biogas production from anaerobic digestion. Horacio Aguirre-Villegas is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: A significant amount of research-based information concerning dairy environmental sustainability has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This information can guide stakeholders on developing pathways that can improve environmental impacts while maintaining dairy farm profitability. Unfortunately, this information is not reaching stakeholders. This project aims to develop this information into online courses that can serve as a resource for farmers, dairy professionals, and interested citizens. These courses will provide information on design, practices, and environmental impacts of dairy farms. There will be seven courses; one course on broad environmental challenges faced by dairy farmers, three basic courses on different management systems, and three courses focusing on manure management. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendation #11 (‘education programming for non-farm audiences’).
“Innovative methods to detect and protect against heat stress in dairy calves”
Jimena Laporta, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences
Laporta is an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. Her research investigates how autocrine, systemic, and environmental factors affect the regulation of mammary gland development and function. Additionally, she researches how these factors affect milk synthesis and composition. Jennifer Van Os and Joao Dorea are collaborating on this research.
Project summary: Wisconsin dairy cows and calves are susceptible to rising global temperatures which threatens animal welfare, health, and productivity. This project seeks to identify heat stress thresholds in Wisconsin dairy calves. Once a heat stress threshold is identified, Laporta and her team will study methods to eliminate or reduce heat stress on dairy calves in outdoor hutch systems. This project aligns with Dairy Task Force recommendation #9 (‘Support the National Dairy FARM program’).
“Real-time soil nitrate leaching sensing for sustainable dairy production”
Jingyi Huang, Department of Soil Science
Huang is an assistant professor in the Department of Soil Science. His research interests include using proximal and remote sensing technology to improve understanding of soil physical processes at various temporal and spatial scales. Joseph Andrews is collaborating on this research
Project summary: This project addresses concerns about nitrate levels in groundwater. Researchers will use novel nano technologies and 3-D printing to manufacture soil sensors. They will then use soil and water samples to evaluate the accuracy of the sensors in the field under different nutrient management practices. The results of this study will support the nutrient management efforts of Wisconsin farmers and the dairy community including university researchers and extension staff. The project aims to help provide more efficient use of Nitrogen fertilizer on-farm and reduction in nutrient losses from intensive agricultural production to groundwater in Wisconsin.This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendation #19 (‘Capital for new and emerging technology’).
“Cocktail forage mix yield, quality and use in cow rations”
Matt Akins, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Marshfield Ag Research Station
Akins began his current role in 2015 as an assistant scientist and extension specialist working mainly with dairy heifer nutrition and forage management. He works with the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station to conduct heifer research studies to evaluate nutrition and forage feeding strategies to control heifer growth and costs of production. Luiz Ferraretto is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: The use of cocktail forage mixes (BMR sorghum-sudangrass, Italian ryegrass, clovers, hairy vetch) as part of the dairy forage system has become more popular the past few years due to weather impacts, alfalfa winterkill, and increased opportunity for manure distribution. However, limited yield and quality research data are available. The objectives of this study include 1) evaluate yield and quality of cocktail forage mixes using on-farm data, 2) evaluate how management factors (seeding depth, row spacing, and red clover varieties) affect forage mix growth and quality, and 3) assess cocktail forage mix fermentation quality and lactating cow performance when fed diets with or without the cocktail forage mix. The goal of this study is to understand forage mix quality and yield and provide relevant data so farmers can make informed cropping and feeding decisions. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendation #26 (‘Increased collaboration in the UW System and with private industry’).
“Ammonia emissions inventory of different management practices and dairy farm settings”
Horacio Aguirre-Villegas, Department of Biological Systems Engineering
Aguirre-Villegasis an assistant scientist in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. His fields of interest include bioenergy, life cycle assessment, anaerobic digestion, and waste management. Rebecca Larson is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: The main source of ammonia emissions is manure from livestock operations. Ammonia emissions can have negative impacts on health and the environment. This information is especially important in Wisconsin, home to 1.3 million dairy cows, where current ammonia information is outdated. This study will use process-based models to quantify ammonia emissions and nitrogen balances from different manure management practices and farm systems, developing a statewide emissions inventory. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force recommendation #7 (‘Become one of the dairy product and business innovation centers’).
“Dietary fiber and starch digestibility effects on feeding behavior and lactation performance”
Luiz Ferraretto, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences
Ferrarettois an assistant professor and extension specialist in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. His research program is focused on understanding and improving starch and fiber utilization by dairy cows, corn silage and high-moisture corn quality and digestibility, the use of alternative by-products as feed ingredients, supplementation of feed additives to lactating cows, and the development of on-farm and laboratory techniques for forage and feed analysis.
Project Summary: Carbohydrates like fiber and starch are known to influence intake patterns and therefore lactation performance by dairy cows. Because of this, there have been recent research efforts to identify new indicators of fiber and starch digestibility for nutritional models used to create rations. These models will be used to help make predictions about intake, rumen health, and performance. This project is conducting a retrospective study to understand the relationship between dietary characteristics and feed behavior and lactation performance. Results of the research will be shared throughout the extension program to provide more accurate guidelines of diet formation. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force recommendation #26 (‘Increased collaboration in the UW System and with private industry’).
“Refining dairy forage rotations with cool season annual grasses”
Jason Cavadini, Marshfield Ag Research Station
Cavadini is an assistant superintendent, agronomist, and certified crop adviser with the Marshfield Ag Research Station, where he manages more than 60 field-research trials and 700 acres of crops annually. He grew up on his family’s farm in the Driftless Area region of Wisconsin where he developed a passion for soil and water conservation. Matt Akins is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: There is more attention than ever on the sustainability of dairy farming practices. The Wisconsin dairy community must prioritize land and water by identifying practices that are geographically appropriate and environmentally resilient. Alfalfa, a staple crop and dairy ration, is vulnerable to challenging environmental conditions in Wisconsin. Additionally, as milk production has been prioritized over crop and soil health, alfalfa has been placed under even greater stress. Farmers are beginning to replace alfalfa with crops that are more appropriate for their landscape and management goals. Many cool season annual grasses are more economical (than alfalfa) to establish and maintain while also exceeding in yield and quality. One of the most common annual grasses used is Italian ryegrass, which currently lacks consistent management recommendations. The current professional fertilizer and nitrogen recommendations negate the crops benefits. While Italian ryegrass provides great promise for the dairy industry, nutrient management standards that strike a balance between milk production and land and water stewardship must be identified to avoid unintended environmental consequences. The goal of this trial is to develop sound nitrogen recommendations for Italian ryegrass in dairy crop rotations.This article was posted in Uncategorized.